líder incluyente

Can I be an inclusive leader? How to be an inclusive leader?

In today’s post I would like to share with you some interesting reflections that emerged in the debate of the Café con Talento channel with the theme of Inclusive Leadership and the management of diversity in companies.

When we talk about diversity in companies, we refer to managing the integration of people with different socioeconomic backgrounds, gender, culture, race, abilities, sexual orientation, age, so that this diversity of employees generates added value for the organization.

How to be an inclusive leader? The lack of inclusive leadership in companies

• 80.4% of people who have felt discriminated against in employment in Spain have done so because of age, according to the Center for Sociological Research. In addition, many millennials feel that their organizations lack more leadership.

• According to the report ‘Wage gap and glass ceiling’, prepared by Gestha, during the past year, far from narrowing, the wage gap in Spain between men and women has widened, being a difference of 28.6% as shown by the latest data from the AEAT. As Mercè Brey comments in her book “Alphas and Omegas”, research shows that more diverse companies benefit from a more committed and ambitious workforce, greater creativity and better results. Even so, only 5% of the CEO position is held by women, without this number having moved significantly for decades.

• There are many people from religious, racial or sexual orientation minorities discriminated against or without visibility in organizations. There are still many people who feel that their situation is not normalized or what influences their feeling of security or belonging is not recognized.

The current challenge in inclusive leadership

The current and future challenge for the survival and development of companies is to have a diverse workforce. Diversity enriches organizations. The key is to learn from each other. Being surrounded by people with diverse characteristics, talents, ways of thinking and competencies makes us reach other points of view and look for other ways of doing our work.

Therefore, is diversity management a strategy or a corporate commitment? Is inclusive leadership a fad or a necessity?

Is the inclusive leader a fad or a necessity?

In this debate we have the generous participation of Mercè Brey , (Expert in Diversity and Inclusive Leadership, writer and speaker) and
Cristina Galindo
, (Director of International HR of Chubb Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Some reflections that emerged in the debate:

Why is it important to talk about inclusive leadership today in companies?

Cristina comments that as the world is changing, (globalization, immigration, people working together from different generations), therefore leaders must find a way to integrate different perspectives. Before the ways of doing things were more hierarchical, more structured, but now it is a reaction to the current situation. Mercè adds that the world currently has two fundamental characteristics: uncertainty and complexity. Companies have to put disruptive proposals on the table for the challenges we face. We cannot continue to do the same thing, but we have to look from another angle. That is why we cannot stay only with a view of reality, since it is biased. Our vision as leaders is the result of our experience. Therefore I must incorporate other looks, and the more different from mine, the wider that look and that interpretation of reality will make me to see new realities. That is inclusive leadership, which faces the challenge of how to get all eyes on each other.

Diversity is the picture you have, the diverse aspects that the people who are part of the organization have. Inclusion is related to the management of that diversity and how those people feel, what are the opportunities offered to them.

How can diversity be promoted within organizations?

Cristina talks about the importance of recognizing “biases” in companies. We all have our view skewed, and it’s important to recognize that the way we see the world is “ours,” but not the only or the best. Once we identify those biases and become aware, we must act to minimize the impact they can have on our decisions as leaders.

Mercè comments that this idea is very important, recognizing that we all have biases. There is even the idea of “metabias”, or the idea of thinking that “I have no bias”, (94% of the people in the survey she conducted said “I have no bias”, when reality showed that this was not the case). The first step is to recognize that we all have them, and, from there, to be able to manage them. Why do we have biases? It is the way in which our “central computer” processes. We process information in two ways. On the one hand, a rational and slow way, to make a decision and, on the other hand, we also process with a fast and intuitive mechanism, which is where biases come from. They are mental models, rapid response patterns that we have made based on experiences, culture, the media, social networks, etc. (example: all English people drink tea, Mexicans are lazy or those who have studied at my school are better). Keep in mind that 95% of the decisions we make are intuitive, that is, they are not rational, although we may believe otherwise. We make on average about 35,000 decisions per day and of these only 5% are rational. Having reflected on this, it is important to make specific policies that can really address diversity management.

It is important to consider that with this inclusive culture the company wins, not just a collective. We must work in two dimensions, on the one hand the rational dialogue (ratio of innovation, creativity, margin, etc.) and we must also take into account the “revolution of consciousness”. Mercè comments that the younger generations bring other values, closely related to diversity and inclusion. If we want to attract talent in organizations for the future and for these younger generations we have to guarantee environments where they feel more comfortable and that implies inclusive and diverse environments.

Creativity is the indispensable element for innovation. The fact that people with different perspectives, profiles and experiences collaborate makes it more feasible to create truly innovative solutions, Mercè Brey.

What examples of actions or concrete examples can you share in order to promote inclusion and effective management of diversity?

Cristina shares that an important area to review is Personnel Selection. Check what biases there are, identify them and can minimize them. Remove the names from the CV’s, which are anonymous. When interviews, what tests are done, have a team of diverse selectors. Think about what are the objective criteria for interviews, a type of objective questions.

Mercè also comments on the importance of creating an inclusive communication guide in companies. How can we talk to include all people? Ensure that all “minorities” are included. It is important to make all minorities visible, to make them visible and to recognize them. Speak with a language that allows to include all collectives.
It is also interesting to identify the diversity of thought. Even in meetings, give voice to all people, not just the most outgoing or the most talking, but everyone is included and all voices are heard.

It is also important to occupy the public space, the way we sit, how we situate ourselves, that also has relevance in how people are represented. Those who have little voice or little space, must be given greater relevance.

The proper management of diversity and inclusion in companies must be done consciously and with support. Sometimes resistance comes from understanding that it is a situation in which some win and others lose, Cristina Galindo.


The concept of “allies” is important. The Manager has the tool of creation of the space called “psychological security”, in that space there are 3 fundamental pillars:

– Confidence in the abilities of all the people in the team.
– Full respect for all people, looking at the person as a human being.
– Impartiality, same talent and same opportunities.

It is also interesting to listen to the different groups and collectives, what they think, how they live it, how they feel to be able to take into account the information from these forums and groups.

It is also important that there is a real commitment from the entire organization, not just from the management or steering committee, but it is essential that you start there, even, for example, with an agreement or manifesto of intentions that shows the involvement of the company with that transformation.

Excellence is achieved with diversity. The best ideas come when you invite everyone to participate, Dava Newman, (Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), first woman appointed deputy director of NASA and Director of MIT’s flagship laboratory)

And you, what do you think about this inclusive leader? What would you like to share?

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